The banality of misogyny

08 Jun 2008 01:32 am
Posted by: Donna

Hi Divas!

So, with all the discussion and rehashing of the primary, a lot has been said recently about the sexism that has been directed at Hillary by the media.  It’s certainly justified.  It was evident in everything from those disgusting Hillary nutcrackers to unflattering charicatures to the commentary of dickwad male cable pundits.   Hey, attention smarmy male newscasters of America:  Hillary Clinton was not auditioning to be your girlfriend, mommy, or Hooter’s waitress.   She was a US Senator running for President and your issues with her voice, laugh, or how she reminded you of your ex-wife or made your balls shrink up are YOUR personal problem and had nothing to do with her qualifications. 

However, there is a running theme in the reactions of some women I’ve encountered, both on the blogosphere and in real life, that I find kind of troubling.  I’ve heard and read many comments from women along the lines of “I’m just so shocked by how sexist and demeaning the media is toward Hillary Clinton!  As a woman, I find this really appalling!  We should really do something about all this sexism and misogyny in the media!!”  I know this sentiment is heartfelt and that these women are genuinely shocked and dismayed.   Good for them for wanting to take action. 

But at the same time, I listen to these women (and for the record, I’m not including any of you Divas in this, it’s a general comment) and I have to wonder, where the hell have y’all been?   Why did it take the Presidential candidacy of arguably one of the most powerful and elite women in the world, and the ensuing insulting treatment and belittlement of her in the public arena to make you see that, hello, we have a problem with sexism in the media?!?   Am I to believe that all this time when it’s been, you know, ordinary women being trashed and marginalized, you were okay with it?  Did you not even notice it was going on?  Has it never seemed unjust to you that you see men of all ages, looks, and body types on TV while 90% of the women look like some version of Barbie?   And that even those acceptably Barbie-ish women are often foils for locker room humor and male bonding?  Have you not noticed how much airtime is devoted to humiliating “fallen” female celebrities like Britney Spears, or non-famous women who screw up, or to heavy-breathing and salacious accounts of kidnapped and murdered women? 

I could go on but my point is that what happened to Hillary Clinton didn’t take place in a vacuum.  What brought this to mind was when I was driving earlier today and flipped to KTAR.  Okay, bear with me on this, I do have a point here.  The host was doing a phone interview with Joe Francis.  Joe is the man responsible for bringing “Girls Gone Wild” to the world.  His claim to fame is by making a tidy sum convincing young women (more often than not heavily under the influence of alcohol) to disrobe and perform for the camera.  Joe and the host were yukking it up over the gullibility and easy availability of girls who, as Joe put it “are looking for their 15 minutes, like Warhol said”.   Then the conversation turned to Joe’s recent legal troubles involving underage girls, which landed him in jail for nearly a year.  Poor dear Joe was given several minutes to explain how he was railroaded and how he was really a good guy.  There was also the matter of a recent lawsuit brought against him by Ashley Dupre.   Apparently, she is suing him for several million because he is selling a tape featuring her image.  Ashley is the call girl who was implicated in the Elliot Spitzer scandal.  Francis told the KTAR host that he believes she owes him an apology.  Why?  Because Ashley is a hooker.  And hookers have no business, according to Joe Francis, of being concerned for their dignity or reputation.  The host offered a mocking half-hearted protestation of “well she IS a human being”, but it was obvious that he agreed with Joe’s premise. 

Why does Joe Francis have any bearing on Hillary Clinton, you ask?  I’ll tell you why.  Because in a country where Ashley Dupre is automatically a piece of sh*t, while a predatory scumbag like Joe Francis can be considered a standup guy and socially acceptable in any possible context, there will never be justice or equality for women.  Yet this is the country we live in.   

That’s why women who are outraged about the way Hillary was treated, and who claim that they’ve been “awakened” to all this terrible sexism in the media, need to stay awake and alert, and they need to extend that alertness to the treatment of ALL women, not just a Presidential candidate.   No movement is ever about one person and that includes feminism.  Being a feminist means looking out for the rights and dignity of women who may include:

Poor women on public assistance

Non-white women

Women who are undocumented immigrants

Single mothers

Sex workers (yes, even women who make their living as prostitutes or strippers deserve respect and dignity)

Rape victims (yes, even if they drank too much, wore provacative clothing, or invited a guy up to their apartment)

Michelle Obama  (yes, her too, even though she is married to Barack Obama and sometimes says outrageous things, kinda like another First Lady from the 90s, hmmm….)

Women who don’t remind you of yourself in any way

Women who aren’t successful professionals or politicians

I hope the hundreds of women who showed up outside of MSNBC to protest the treatment of Hillary Clinton realize that the aforementioned examples are the types of non-Presidential candidate women who are routinely scorned and ridiculed  by the media.  I hope they understand that young girls will still aspire to be featured on Joe Francis’ latest Girls Gone Wild edition, regardless of the outcome of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.   Men will continue to be the default humans, and the male experience will still be held up as the norm by the media and the female as deviant and superfluous, so long as women continue to accept the ordinary, workaday misogyny that pervades our cultural landscape.   This is not to diminish the passion for defending Hillary.  It’s just to say, don’t stop at Hillary.  Please.

8 Comments

  1. Comment by yeah. on June 8, 2008 7:39 am

    best post yet.

  2. Comment by Coolio on June 8, 2008 12:31 pm

    bravo!

  3. Comment by Colleen on June 8, 2008 1:13 pm

    Woah. This was very powerful. I’m having my teenage daughter read this.

  4. Comment by TMo on June 9, 2008 8:30 am

    YAY! I love strong women. So sexy!

  5. Comment by Bob Law on June 9, 2008 8:37 am

    You’re making a comparison so wide and vast, it only serves to propel your ignorance to unimaginable heights.

    There’s a great deal of people who don’t like the Clinton’s because of their consistently dark dealings and lies, not because there’s only 17 million people in America who aren’t sexist. Whitewater, Lewinsky, The Dubai-Port Deal, inhaling (or lack-there-of?), Travelgate, Bosnian “Sniper Fire”, just the rip of the proverbial ice-berg. If you’ve never lived, worked or wrote for a paper in the District of Columbia, you can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to sit in a stifling, humid little room that’s older than your grandparents, taking notes from some asshole who is lying to you and everyone else in the room. Everyone knows the speak is lying, but you’re fairly helpless to do much about it because one of the unheard of realities of modern politics is that for all the negative press you give a heavyweight politician, the more likely you are to be found dead a few days later, in a dumpster in a South East ghetto, with crack in your pocket and no ID.

    Do some god damn Googling, some of it’s bullshit, and some of it isn’t. But to believe a Clinton is to believe a Bush, they all come from the same cloud of deception and you’re fooling yourself to ignore the vast mountain of poorly hidden evidence.

  6. Comment by Donna on June 9, 2008 11:12 am

    Hi Bob. I get it, you don’t care for the Clintons. And gosh, after 10 years in the military (half of it under Bill’s presidency) and then another 9 in a male-dominated work environment in Arizona, it’s so rare that I ever hear a critical word about either Clinton. I had no idea that there were mountains of rumors and allegations about them! Thanks so much for my edification.

    I’m being sarcastic, Bob. And Espresso Pundit is thataway ——–>

  7. Comment by Dana on June 10, 2008 7:54 am

    Brilliant post on so many levels. Bob Law isn’t worth the time to respond.

  8. Comment by badgerbag on June 11, 2008 9:05 am

    OMG best line ever

    “Hey, attention smarmy male newscasters of America: Hillary Clinton was not auditioning to be your girlfriend, mommy, or Hooter’s waitress.”

    You took the words right out of my mouth. It’s unbelievable the stupidity of the media especially TV media, who can’t seem to frame any discussion of female politicians in other terms than whether they’re nice or strident, bossy or emotional,or whether they have wrinkles or funny hair. SO ANNOYING. I wish they’d quit it.

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